Thursday, June 22, 2006

Radiation - Day Seven

Start of second week of radiation. So far, no side effects other than a slight stiffness in the right chest and arm areas. The skin hasn’t changed color yet.

Met with the radiation oncologist. He said I’m getting 50.4 Gray in 28 sessions, so 1.8 units per fraction. This is slightly different from the 50 Gray in 25 sessions recommended by the other two radiation oncologists I went to see. I’m getting my current dosage because lower doses spread out over more sessions will minimize skin reactions, says the doctor.

The doctor said the radiation to the neck (for the supraclavicular lump) will involve the larynx, so I may have a sore throat after a while. It will also hit the apex of the lung and after a few weeks, I’ll be able to see a burn mark on the skin on my back. The radiation will enter my body from the front, go through my body, and burn the skin on my back. Yikes.

Doctor examined my chest and said there’s no fluid build-up. He said stretching my arms is okay, but avoid too much heavy lifting for long periods of time.

I’ve taken it upon myself to make sure I feel better about my treatment. The day after that first session when I felt no confidence that my treatment team was seeing me as a human being, I went in and introduced myself and asked all their names and their positions. They seemed rather shy, as if they weren’t used to being friendly with patients.

Since then, we’ve chit-chatted and I’ve asked them questions about themselves. The lead radiotherapist (at least, I think she’s the senior one) is a mother of a 6-year-old and a 4-month-old so she and I talk about babies. Two of the other ladies are from the Philippines and are very young -- in their twenties. They’re quiet and shy, but will engage in a bit of pleasantries when I initiate it. Then there’s the head of the department who is quite smiley and friendly to me now.

I took Josie to one session and had her wait in the waiting area while I was in the treatment room. She kept the other patients and staff entertained. One of the radiotherapists calls her “the entertainer”. Now that I’ve started warming up to the radiotherapists and they’ve met Josie, maybe they see me more as an individual rather than a job. I certainly hope so.

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